Negotiable – definition and meaning

In business, if something is negotiable, we can sell or transfer it to another person or entity as a form of payment. In other words, it is transferable by endorsement and delivery. For example, a check (UK: cheque) that I make out to somebody is a negotiable instrument. It is negotiable because that person can endorse it for payment or transfer it to another person.

Other examples of negotiable instruments include banknotes, bills of exchange, demand draft and promissory notes.

A negotiable instrument is a document that guarantees the payment of a specified amount of money. The receiver gets the money either on demand, or at a set time.

We also use the word for the terms of an agreement or contract. It means that we might be able to adjust the terms. For example, if you advertise your car for sale in your local newspaper and say ‘$15,000 negotiable’, it means you would consider offers below that amount.

You could also write, ‘%15,000 ONO.’ ‘ONO’ stands for ‘or near offer.’

Negotiable - meaning and example
In business, ‘negotiable’ means that we can adjust the terms of a deal. In this case, we might be able to reduce the sale price of the car.

We can often (not always) replace the term with marketable, unregistered, or transferable in business situations.

In finance, the word typically refers to a legal instrument or document that we use in lieu of cash. We use it to make a promise of payment – in most cases of cash.

The carrier of the document receives payment either upon demand or at some future date.

Negotiable vs. non-negotiable

Non-negotiable has the opposite meaning. It means that the deal not open for discussion or modification. If it is a financial instrument, we cannot transfer or assign legal ownership to somebody else.

A price that we cannot negotiate is the final price. In other words, the seller would not consider anything bellow the asking price. has the following definitions for the term when it is an adjective:

“1. Capable of being negotiated (e.g. when you can negotiate salary demand). 2. (of bills, securities, etc.) Transferable by delivery, with or without endorsement, according to the circumstances, the title passing to the transferee.”

Origin of negotiable

Etymologists say that the adjective ‘negotiable’ first appeared in the English language around 1749. The word – negotiate + able – comes from the French négociable (17c). The noun is ‘negotiability’ and the verb is ‘to negotiate’.

The verb ‘negotiate’ comes from the Latin negotiate (done in the course of business). The Latin verb is negotiari (to do business) and noun is negotium (business).

Famous quote using ‘negotiable’ – During The Berlin Crisis in 1961, US President John F. Kennedy said in a radio and TV address to the American people: “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

During his inaugural address in 1961, President Kennedy said: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Compound phrases with ‘Negotiable’

With the word ‘Negotiable,’ we can make dozens of compound phrases. Here are 15 of them:

  • Negotiable Instrument

A written promise or order to pay a specific amount of money that can be transferred to another person by endorsement.

  • Negotiable Terms

Conditions in a contract or agreement that can be adjusted or discussed by the parties involved.

  • Negotiable Price

A price for goods, property, or services that is not fixed and can be altered through bargaining.

  • Non-negotiable Check

A check that cannot be endorsed over to another party and must be cashed or deposited by the person to whom it is originally made out.

  • Negotiable Securities

Financial instruments that can be sold or transferred to another party freely on the securities market.

  • Negotiable Contract

A contract that allows for its terms to be modified through negotiation between the parties.

  • Freely Negotiable

A term indicating that a financial instrument or asset can be traded or exchanged without restriction.

  • Negotiable Bill of Lading

A document in shipping that can be transferred to another party, giving them title to the goods and the right to re-route the shipment.

  • Negotiable Credit

A line of credit where the terms, such as interest rate or repayment schedule, can be altered through discussion.

  • Non-negotiable Bond

A bond that is registered to its holder by name and cannot be transferred to another party.

  • Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW)

An account from which the account holder can write checks that are payable on demand.

  • Negotiable Skills

Abilities or qualifications that can be utilized in various job roles and are subject to discussion in terms of value or relevance.

  • Open to Negotiable

A statement indicating willingness to discuss and adjust specific conditions or elements of a deal or agreement.

  • Negotiable Salary

The part of a job offer, usually the wage or salary, that can be discussed and potentially increased.

  • Endorsement in Full

A declaration on a negotiable instrument that specifies the individual to whom, or the entity to which, the payment is to be made, making it a specific type of negotiable endorsement.

Other languages

Here is the word ‘Negotiable’ written in various languages:

  • Spanish: Negociable
  • Hindi: परक्राम्य (Parkramya)
  • French: Négociable
  • Arabic: قابل للتفاوض (Qabil lil-tafawud)
  • Bengali: আলোচনাযোগ্য (Alochonayogyo)
  • Russian: Обсуждаемый (Obsuzhdaemyy)
  • Portuguese: Negociável
  • Indonesian: Dapat dinegosiasikan
  • Urdu: قابل بحث (Qabil-e-Bahs)
  • German: Verhandelbar
  • Japanese: 交渉可能 (Kōshō kanō)
  • Swahili: -Inayoweza kukubaliwa
  • Marathi: वाटाघाटीय (Vāṭāghāṭīya)
  • Telugu: చర్చించదగిన (Charchinchadagina)
  • Turkish: Müzakere edilebilir
  • Korean: 협상 가능한 (Hyeopsang ganeunghan)
  • Tamil: பேச்சுவார்த்தை செய்யக்கூடிய (Pēccu vārththai ceyyakkūḍiya)
  • Vietnamese: Có thể thương lượng
  • Italian: Negoziabile
  • Gujarati: વાટાઘાટ કરી શકાય તેવું (Vāṭāghāṭa karī śakāya tevuṃ)
  • Farsi: قابل مذاکره (Ghabel-e mozakerah)
  • Bhojpuri: परक्राम्य (Parkramya)
  • Hakka: 可商量 (Kó-sṳn-liōng)
  • Mandarin Chinese: 可协商 (Kě xiéshāng)
  • Cantonese Chinese: 可商議 (Hó sāang yíh)
  • Jin Chinese: 可商量 (Kě shāngliáng)
  • Southern Min: 可商量 (Khó-siong-liōng)
  • Kannada: ಸಂಧಾನಾರ್ಹ (Sandhānārha)

Video – What is Negotiable?

This video, from our sister YouTube channel – Marketing Business Network, explains what a ‘Negotiable’ is using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.